How can Australia repair its relationship with France after the AUKUS submarine row?

The continuing diplomatic rift between France and Australia is “not about the submarines”, says Romain Fathi, a French-Australian historian from Flinders University.

“The French are very upset because [they] thought we had established a genuine, positive relationship with Australia,” Dr Fathi said.

“But of course the French misunderstood Australian culture … the way the Australian psyche works.”

The AUKUS pact with the UK and US to acquire nuclear submarines is seen as the most important strategic shift for Australia in more than half a century. 

However, it has come at the expense of French-Australian relations, which some say are at the lowest point in living memory.

So, what are the implications for the Pacific? What might France do to Australia in retaliation? 

And what, if anything, can the federal government do to make up for it?

Why are the French so angry?

The French government responded to Australia’s decision to dump the $90 billion contract for French-designed submarines last week by recalling its ambassadors to the US and Australia.

After a phone conversation between US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, the French ambassador is heading back to Washington, but Mr Macron still isn’t taking Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s calls.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham has said  that the deal with them would be cancelled, before it was publicly announced.

But Mr Morrison later said he had tried to call Mr Macron just hours before the AUKUS announcement.

And France now claims Australian diplomats wrote to them saying were “satisfied” with how the diesel-electric submarines deal was progressing on the very day it was canned.

“Communication has been pretty poor because we work on very different cultural systems,” Dr Fathi told the ABC.

But he said it was “naive” of France to think it could replace the US and UK as Australia’s most important ally.

“You can’t just show up and think that suddenly things are going to revolve around you.

“Australia doesn’t care so much about sovereignty, it cares about security.”

Australia was identified as a key partner after Mr Macron announced France’s new Indo-Pacific strategy in 2018.

“The strategic partnership with [Australia] is based on a deep security and defence cooperation effort,” declared the French government’s 2021 update on the strategy released last month, with a foreword from Mr Macron.

“[Cooperation was] consolidated by the Naval Group being chosen in 2016 for the construction of the future Australian ocean-going submarines.”

This was why, Dr Fathi said, the diplomatic spat was “not about the money”.

“Twelve submarines is a drop in the ocean of contracts that France has.

“The submarines were the tip of the iceberg for a partnership with Australia, and for a ‘third way’ in the Pacific.”

When Mr Morrison was in France in June, Mr Macron declared a “full and complete” commitment to the submarine deal and to “meet the needs of Australia” towards “common ambitions”.

“[The submarines are] a pillar of our partnership and the relationship of confidence between our countries,” he said.

France and Australia are both significant players in the Pacific, who share concern about the growing regional economic and military influence of China.

Erin Watson-Lynn, a Melbourne-based foreign affairs analyst, said France’s public anger could also be intended to send a message to Beijing.

“If France is seen as too aligned to the US, or UK, or Australia, then it can’t actually play that mediating role with China [and the EU],” she said.

What’s more, the French government says 1.5 million of its citizens are in the Indo-Pacific.

At least 500,000 live in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, right on Australia’s doorstep.

“France is actually very close geographically to Australia,” Ms Watson-Lynn said.

“The closest countries to Australia are PNG (Papua New Guinea), East Timor, Indonesia, and France, through New Caledonia.

“This stuff does actually matter in our region, and there could be consequences.”

What might France do in retaliation?

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the “brutal” and “unpredictable” announcement of AUKUS reminded him of former US president Donald Trump.

Nevertheless, Dr Fathi said “it’s a lot easier to retaliate against Canberra, than it is against Washington”.

That is bad news for Australia, with Trade Minister Dan Tehan heading off to Europe with Canberra attempting to negotiate a free trade agreement.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed concern this week that “one of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we want to know what happened and why”.

“First of all, clarify that before we can keep on going with business as usual,” she said.

 

The EU is Australia’s second-largest trading partner and its second-largest source of foreign investment, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Dr Fathi said France would be pushing its EU partners to play hardball with Australia, as the bloc has done in free trade negotiations with Britain.

One way to do this could be to punish Australia for a lack of action on climate change, he said.

Just as Germany is the economic powerhouse of the EU, France sees itself as the diplomatic and strategic voice of the bloc, Ms Watson-Lynn said.

“France has huge interests at both ends of the Indo-Pacific”, and could also look to frustrate Australia’s so-called Pacific step up, she said.

France also holds territory in Antarctica, and this could be “consequential” for Australia, Dr Watson-Lynn said.

The ABC sent questions to the French embassy and European Union Delegation in Canberra but did not receive a response.

What should Australia do?

The announcement of AUKUS came days apart from the EU announcing its own Indo-Pacific strategy, which some say was not an accident.

A key pillar of the strategy is to complete EU trade negotiations with Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand.

“What Australia’s going to have to do is play really nicely with some of the other biggish EU members, so Germany, potentially Italy as well, to balance out France’s influence,” Ms Watson-Lynn said.

“There’s going to have to be some kind of diplomatic effort … because it could be damaging to the FTA negotiations, definitely.”

Mr Morrison flying back to Washington and “snubbing the French” was “exactly what they shouldn’t do”, Dr Fathi said.

“This is the best way of having the heaviest retaliation possible.”

Australia should instead emphasise that heightened tensions with China have changed its defence priorities, he said.

“They should re-ensure, that any French company that is in this country, and there are a fair few, that Australia is committed to a strong relationship with French companies.

“They need to say as quickly as possible ‘we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater’. It’s just diplomacy and submarines, but there are so many things greater than this.”

Former Australian diplomat Hugh Piper wrote this week that Canberra should “present concrete proposals for French troop rotations in Australia and potentially even a basing arrangement for French ships”.

Supporting France’s interests in New Caledonia, especially with another independence referendum approaching this December, presents the “greatest opportunity” to get back on side, he argued.

Australia could also consider relaxing working holiday visas and other visa arrangements for French citizens as a sign of goodwill, Ms Watson-Lynn said.

“There’s a lot of symbolic damage” to the relationship with France which needed to be compensated symbolically, she said.


Video: Australia’s new submarine deal could affect relationship with France (ABC NEWS)

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Giant refugee puppet Little Amal arrives on UK shore holding Jude Law's hand

© Dan Kitwood Actor Jude Law walks with Little Amal on Folkestone Pier. Getty Images A giant moving puppet that has traversed Europe over four months on stilts reached UK ... Read more »

Click to Pray 2.0 - Vatican app gets up close and personal with God

© Reuters/GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE Vatican launches ‘Click to Pray’ app By Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican on Tuesday rolled out its latest “Click to Pray” app, offering a ... Read more »

Police rush to protect Michael Gove as protesters swarm in Westminster

© Paul Brown GoveGrab191012 Michael Gove was swarmed by protesters on the streets of Westminster on Tuesday afternoon. Footage posted to social media shows a large crowd of demonstrators rushing ... Read more »

Andy Fairbairn creates history as Duddingston win Inter Cities Cup

© Duddingston celebrate winning the Inter Cities Cup for a second time after beating Glasgow GC at Hil… Fifteen years after claiming the trophy in just its second staging, Duddingston ... Read more »

US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska expects to be indicted

FILE – In this May 14, 2014, file photo, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., speaks in Lincoln, Neb. Fortenberry expects to be charged with lying to the FBI while federal ... Read more »

Ethiopian PM threatens to stop food aid entering the country

Tigrayan women and children displaced from conflict shelter in a school – Ben Curtis/AP Ethiopia's Prime Minister has implied that he may stop international food aid from being delivered to ... Read more »

Woman accused of murdering husband ‘said she should have stabbed him more'

A woman accused of murdering her husband said she “should have stabbed him more” as she was arrested, a court has heard. Penelope Jackson, 66, is standing trial at Bristol ... Read more »

Kate Middleton looks autumnal in head-to-toe red for latest appearance

© Neil Mockford – Getty Images Kate Middleton wears autumnal red outfit for latest appearance. The Duchess of Cambridge was making a speech for her latest campaign to raise awareness ... Read more »

Supply chain shortage is driving up prices. Farmers are worried it could grow worse.

Joel Everett said he was astounded when a lightly used 2009 John Deere tractor sold at his last auction in Strawberry Point, Iowa, for tens of thousands of dollars more ... Read more »

Watch Live: Jury Selection in Ahmaud Arbery Death

Jury selection continues for the murder trial of three men charged with murdering Georgia resident Ahmaud Arbery, 25. The process began on Monday and is expected to take a total of ... Read more »

Ex-Fugitive Says Brian Laundrie's Parents Will Do What They Can to Help Him Stay Free

A man who spent two years on the run in the 90s after faking his own death believes that if they are helping Brian Laundrie, his parents are going to ... Read more »

Haiti kidnappers demand $17 million in exchange for American and Canadian missionaries

An armed gang in Haiti authorities said is holding 17 American and Canadian missionaries hostage has reportedly requested a total of $17 million in ransom, or $1 million for each ... Read more »

Kansas City suburb bans LGBTQ conversion therapy

A Kansas City suburb voted on Monday to ban LGBTQ conversion therapy for minors. © Omer Messinger/Getty Images Kansas City suburb bans LGBTQ conversion therapy The city council for Prairie ... Read more »

Trump told Sen. Tommy Tuberville to 'protect yourself' right before the riot on January 6

© Alex Brandon/AP Former President Donald Trump and then-Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville step off Air Force One on June 11, 2020. Alex Brandon/AP Sen. Tommy Tuberville spoke with Trump before ... Read more »

Govt extends ability of existing air quality early warning system to have decision-making capability

The Centre on Tuesday extended the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR region. Union minister ... Read more »

Ohio college student 'angry' and 'scared' after 'cisgender men' installed radiator in dorms: 'Safe space'

A student at Oberlin College in Ohio described being “scared” and “angry” after the school announced a work crew would be installing radiators in a “safe space” dormitory for women ... Read more »

Going green will be cheaper than the alternative, Treasury finds

It will be cheaper for the world to combat climate change now than to do nothing and deal with the consequences, the Treasury has found. A review into the future ... Read more »

Militante Windpark-Gegner legen Baustelle in der Waadt lahm

© Keystone/VALENTIN FLAURAUD Aufgeschlitzte Pneus, Beleidigungen und Blockaden: Der Bau des ersten Windparks im Kanton Waadt in Sainte-Croix hat vergangene Woche unter chaotischen Zuständen begonnen. Romande Energie und weitere beteiligte ... Read more »

IMF upbeat about MENA growth, warns about uneven recovery

© Motivate Publishing imf_140990a11 The International Monetary Fund has turned more optimistic on economic growth prospects in the Middle East and North Africa this year and next as an uneven ... Read more »

How to find the 1985 Tokai Sabuku in Far Cry 6

© Provided by GamePur Rides are a big part of Far Cry games and Far Cry 6 has four unique rides that can be customized. One of these rides, the ... Read more »

Klimaschutz wird grössergeschrieben

Die Europäische Zentralbank (EZB) will die Folgen des Klimawandels im Rahmen ihrer Geldpolitik berücksichtigen. Bis 2024 soll ein Massnahmenpaket umgesetzt werden. Schneller als erwartet hat die Europäische Zentralbank (EZB) am ... Read more »

Kourtney Kardashian transforms into younger sister Kim after fans accused her of ‘morphing' into fiance Travis Barker

KOURTNEY Kardashian has seemingly been transforming into her younger sister Kim as the two pose in a similar manner, dress alike, and even share the same hairdos. Previously, the newly ... Read more »

‘Dangerous Tendency': Kerala Police Advise Against Jumping Into Rivers to Catch Fish In Wake of Floods

© Provided by News18 ‘Dangerous Tendency’: Kerala Police Advise Against Jumping Into Rivers to Catch Fish In Wake of Floods In the wake of rain and landslides wreaking havoc in ... Read more »

Should We Scrap Daylight Saving Time?

Reader’s Digest Canada: There’s some controversy around who invented daylight saving time—some say it was Benjamin Franklin. Care to weigh in? © Photo: Shutterstock Blake Shaffer: I don’t think you ... Read more »

Sarah Harding's ghost ‘is visiting Girls Aloud bandmate Nadine Coyle' who claims ‘she keeps moving things in the house'

GIRLS Aloud’s Nadine Coyle is convinced she has been visited by the ghost of her late bandmate Sarah Harding. The singer passed away last month aged 39 following a battle ... Read more »

Report: Yankees bringing back manager Aaron Boone for 3 more years

Two weeks after the New York Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs, they ended speculation about the status of their manager, Aaron Boone. According to Jack Curry of YES Network, ... Read more »

This ad reveals how worried Terry McAuliffe is about the Virginia governor's race

Late last month, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said this in a debate with Republican Glenn Youngkin; “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” © ... Read more »

The volcano in Spain that has a lone church in its crater

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Spain’s Costa Brava is rightly coveted for its superb beaches and stunning coastline. But visitors to the region should take time off from ... Read more »

Heat pump: What is a heat pump and how much will it cost YOU?

Heat pumps will be one of the main forms of heating a home in the future. About 85 percent of UK homes use gas boilers for heating, which makes it ... Read more »

Map reveals cities with MOST snorers – as UK dubbed snoring capital of the world

IF you sleep next to someone who snores constantly then it's likely you struggle to get a decent night's sleep. New research has now revealed that the UK is the ... Read more »

Cult Beauty Black Friday sale 2021: what to expect

CULT Beauty is a go-to hub for beauty fans – it stocks all our favourite top brands and often introduces new, trending, product ranges. So, naturally, we're super excited for ... Read more »

Christian Pulisic injury update: Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel confirms latest ankle setback

An ankle injury that Christian Pulisic picked up on U.S. national team duty in September is still holding him back from a return, according to Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, who ... Read more »

2022 Honda Civic Si debuts, features the Type R's rev-matching system

The all-new 2022 Honda Civic Si debuted today, blending the improvements of the 11th-generation Civic sedan with a touch of extra performance spice. The new model improves over the previous ... Read more »

Woman, 31, found ‘murdered' in Kettering home as ‘suspect', 38, who was with her taken to hospital

A MURDER investigation has been launched after a woman was found “murdered” inside a home in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Police said that they found the 31-year-old's body after forcing entry into ... Read more »

Everton injury blow as standout player Doucoure faces spell out with broken foot

© PA Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure. EVERTON HAVE BEEN dealt an injury blow with the news that Abdoulaye Doucoure faces a spell on the sidelines with a broken foot. The 28-year-old ... Read more »

Kevin McCarthy predicts more Democrats retiring ahead of 2022

“They’ve been challenged before and they’re going to get beat up,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy said about his Democratic colleagues. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images Republican House leader Rep. ... Read more »

Saleh Al-Jasser heads Saudi delegation to Arab transport ministers meeting in Cairo

© Provided by Ajel News Minister of Transport and Logistic Services Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser led the Saudi delegation to the 34th session of the Council of Arab Transport ... Read more »

Teacher took upskirt photos of student in his Connecticut classroom

Christian Stevenson was a social studies teacher and varsity golf coach at Rockville High School in Vernon. Vernon Police Department A Connecticut teacher took hundreds of inappropriate photographs inside a ... Read more »

Unicef: 10,000 Yemeni children have been killed or maimed since war began

© Hani Mohammed A child who was injured in a deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike rests in a hospital in Sa’ada, Yemen. The United Nations said on Tuesday that more than ... Read more »

Saudi workers in guided transport sector to get SR2400 monthly from HADAF

© Provided by Ajel News Saudi Arabia’s Public Transport Authority called on citizens to take advantage of a self-employment support program in the guided transport sector. The authority said the ... Read more »